PMS (premenstrual syndrome)

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PMS includes mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, sleep difficulties, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and depression that recur in a predictable pattern in some women around the time of menstruation.

Hormone fluctuations and chemical changes in the brain that occur on a monthly basis are thought to contribute to PMS. Insufficient amounts of the brain chemical serotonin may play a role in mood changes and depression, as well as symptoms such as fatigue, food cravings, and sleep problems.

Among women who experience PMS, for some, the symptoms are mild. For others, they can be severe enough to affect their daily lives. A small number of women have disabling symptoms every month. This form of PMS is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Regardless of their severity, signs, and symptoms of PMS generally disappear within about four days of the start of your menstrual period.


For many women, lifestyle changes can help relieve PMS symptoms. A doctor may prescribe medications for more-severe or troublesome symptoms. The success of medications varies from woman to woman.


Oftentimes, you can manage or reduce PMS symptoms with changes in the way you eat, exercise, and approach daily life.

Modify your diet

Make these changes to your diet to see if your symptoms improve:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to reduce the sensation of fullness that can accompany PMS.
  • Limit salt and salty foods to help reduce bloating and fluid retention.
  • Eat foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Carbohydrates affect serotonin levels. Complex carbs are generally healthier than simple carbs.
  • Eat foods rich in calcium. If you can’t tolerate dairy products or aren’t getting adequate calcium in your diet, a daily calcium supplement may help. Calcium may help reduce some of the physical and psychological symptoms of PMS.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Exercise regularly

Daily exercise can improve your overall health and alleviate symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, and a depressed mood. Try to exercise for 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week.

Reduce stress and learn to relax

This starts with making sure that you get adequate sleep each night. Progressive muscle relaxation or deep-breathing exercises can help reduce headaches, anxiety, and stress, and they may improve insomnia. Other techniques for relieving stress and promoting relaxation include yoga, tai chi, and massage.


Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”. 

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